After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival hosted its 17th festival from 1 to 10 July 2022. One of the most attractive drawcards for the advanced student participant is the chance to win a scholarship to shadow a faculty member in their country of work for a period of 10 days. At the 10th SICMF in 2013, the festival awarded 10 such scholarships and at every SICMF since, one such scholarship has been awarded. 

The 2022 10-day job shadow scholarship was awarded to Erin Solomon, who is packing his bags for a 10-day trip to Washington DC to job shadow, and receive master classes from Jauvon Gilliam, principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra of the USA. 2022 saw Gilliam visit South Africa for the first time as one of the internationally acclaimed faculty members of the SICMF. The joy and surprise on Erin’s face when he was announced as the winner of this prestigious award was priceless.

Growing up, Erin was exposed to wide variety of jazz and soul. He was first exposed to classical music in his school orchestra which ultimately led to formal percussion lessons with Frank Mallows (UCT), and a position in the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Erin commenced his university studies in 2022 and welcomed the opportunity to continue his practical studies with Mallows, in his words, “the same incredible teacher that had started my percussion tuition. Having the opportunity to now receive lessons from him in a dedicated university context has proven an extraordinary learning opportunity and I have been able to learn immensely from him in both the domains of solo and orchestral playing.”

“The 2022 SICMF was, without exaggeration, a truly life-changing experience for me. 2022 was not simply a first year for my music degree, but also my first year returning to playing music after nearly 4 years away, as well as the first year I was actually playing music with the intent of pursuing music as my life path. Thus, the 2022 SICMF acted as a grand crystallisation of this giant step back into the world of playing music within my own personal journey. Almost every aspect of the festival was a new and exciting learning opportunity through which I could expand my musical horizons. The chamber music and coachings with our faculty member, Jauvon Gilliam proved a vibrant rollercoaster of percussion playing.”

“Gilliam proved a tremendous source of insight and inspiration during my time at the 2022 SICMF. With timpani as my principal instrument, it was a particularly enlightening experience to engage with Jauvon as a dedicated timpanist.”

When asked about his future, Erin said he was dedicated to further study abroad and whilst he would continue to play solo and chamber music, he ultimately wished to play in a professional symphony orchestra. “I adore and am continually inspired by the orchestral repertoire and I find the experience of playing in an orchestra – the act of working together with such a large group of diverse instrumentalists to create a common fabric of music – a fundamentally invigorating and fulfilling act”

The management of the SICMF wishes Erin every success as he embarks on his musical journey to the USA. 


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